SLI Systems Helps Stanfords Increase Conversion

November 15, 2012

SLI Systems has generated a conversion improvement, we learn from their press release, “Stanfords Creates 3.5X Improvement in Conversion Rate and 3X Higher Per-Visit Value with SLI Systems Site Search.” The write up tells us:

“Stanfords, the UK’s leading specialist retailer of maps, travel books, and travel accessories, is seeing a conversion rate for site search users that is 3.5 times the rate for non-site search users after implementing Learning Search from SLI Systems. In addition, per-visit value for visitors who use site search is three times higher than per-visit values for visitors who don’t use search. Stanfords chose SLI’s customizable refinements and learning-based approach to replace the site search built into its e-commerce platform from Exact Abacus.”

Interesting metric. Could there be something about users who don’t use site search that predisposes them to not buy?

Stanfords‘ e-commerce manager Joanna Lawton explained that the recent expansion into travel-related products prompted the move. She is happy with the increased relevance of her company’s results pages, as well as with the system’s intuitive user tools, she said.

SLI Systems supplies tools for site search, navigation, merchandising, and search engine optimization. They boast that their technology ‘learns’ from the behavior of visitors over time, resulting in more relevant results. The privately held company has offices in the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Cynthia Murrell, November 15, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Study Proves Students Not Enthused About Digital Classrooms

October 17, 2012

Numerous opportunities exist online to assist in the development of education, such as social networking, blogs, and even simple email. However, according to an article I spotted on titled “Study Reveals Disparity Between Students’ and Professors’ Perceptions of the Digital Classroom,” the integration of education and information and communication tools (ICTs) is not exactly welcome by many students. A recent study from Concordia University shows that students actually prefer an engaging lecture to some wired supplement.

The article elaborates on the results:

“Instructors were more fluent with the use of emails than with social media, while the opposite was true for students.

‘Our analysis showed that teachers think that their students feel more positive about their classroom learning experience if there are more interactive, discussion-oriented activities. In reality, engaging and stimulating lectures, regardless of how technologies are used, are what really predict students’ appreciation of a given university course,” explains [Magda Fusaro from UQAM's Department of Management and Technology.]”

The countless possibilities that exist online to expand learning and teaching methods could prove to be a mad rush to the Web for many learning establishments as they attempt to explore the options. However, if this study is accurate, students may not be willing to go along on the ride. It appears online information and services may not be able to fill student expectations.

Andrea Hayden, October 17, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Connotate Adds PDF Extraction Function

October 12, 2012

PDF files often pose challenges for those extracting data from these types of documents, but Connotate is announcing added capabilities that will make this process easier for users. According to the article “Connotate Expands Automation Solution to Include Precise PDF Extraction” on Market Watch, the provider of automated data solutions is expanding capabilities that will allow data extraction from unstructured flat-file documents and transform them into higher-value structured content.

The article informs us about the changes at the company and the need for the technology in the market:

“‘In listening to our customer base, we heard very clearly the need for automated collection and transformation of more types of data — and PDF extraction was at the top of the list,’ said Isai Shenker, vice president of product management for Connotate. ‘We are delighted to offer a proven solution to meet this need by working with our partner, Khemeia Technologies.’”

This PDF extraction function will benefit numerous industries, as these documents are used often in financial reporting, legal services, publishing, and government documentation. We applaud Connotate in the unique and highly demanded technology, which will enable organizations to process higher volumes of data, likely reducing costs and generating revenue.

Andrea Hayden, October 12, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

New App Allows Users to Search Without Effort

October 3, 2012

CNET News has the latest news on an iPad search app, “MindMeld Voice and Video App Instantly Anticipates Your Needs.”  Expect Labs created the new MindMeld app (not the Vulcan mind trick from Star Trek), but it acts in a similar manner.  Using only vocal conversation MindMeld provides instant contextual information related to the speakers’ conversation.  For instance, if two Star Trek fans were discussing if Kirk or Picard was the better captain, MindMeld would have several windows with data about the captains pop up
MindMeld’s purpose is simple:

“The idea here, Tuttle said, is that MindMeld is at the forefront of the kind of technology that will surround us everywhere in a few years and that will be always on and constantly paying attention in order to serve up information when we want it, or possibly even before we know we want it.”

MindMeld must rely on user input for the time being, but the goal is that during a video call users will not have to type anything into the app.  It will provide information based on what users talk about and when they tap the screen looking for information.  Expect Labs has the lead here, but vocal software has always presented problems.  MindMeld will need to be tested for relevancy and accuracy as well.  Machines cannot read minds yet.

Whitney Grace, October 03, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Our Mobile Phone Wonderland

August 25, 2012

Here is where hype and over-the-top marketing collide with reality. Cell Phone Digest reports that “Pew Research Reviews Mobile Phone Problems.” Reporting on a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, the article states:

“Even though mobile technology often simplifies the completion of everyday tasks, cell phone owners can also encounter technical glitches and unwanted intrusions on their phones. In an April 2012 survey, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project assessed the prevalence of four problems that cell owners might face.”

The four problems: dropped calls (72% experienced them), unwanted sales calls (68%), spam texts (69% of texting users), and slow download speeds (77% of those who go online with their phones). The survey found that smartphone users experienced these problems more than those with phones of average intelligence.

The write up notes that, though the study was not structured to measure illegal cell phone marketing, the amounts found imply a lot of that is going around. The article reminds us to look into the National Do Not Call Registry if we wish to reduce the number of marketing calls and texts we receive.

Researchers suspect that our levels of dissatisfaction are the result of technology that has not been able to keep up with our expectations. Could less-than-completely-honest advertising have anything to do with that? Nah, that can’t be it.

Cynthia Murrell, August 25, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

The Future: Computing Toasters and Microwave Ovens for Search

August 24, 2012

After floundering around Denali National Park, I had a backlog of stories which Overflight flagged as “must reads.” One, which caught my attention, was “Fewer and Fewer People Want to Know about Computers, Says Google.” I took a look at the write up.

The first thing which hit me was that the article was pegged to Google Trends. If you are not familiar with this service, navigate to Google Trends. Type in your search terms and hit “Search Trends.” Google taps into some of its data to generate a chart which purports to show the number of queries for the terms over the timeline. I ran this query on August 23, 2012, tablet, notebook computer. Google happily displayed:


Despite the lousy Web log graphics, the flat red line represents search for notebook computers. The squiggly blue line shows queries for the word “tablet.” Now there is an issue with disambiguation of “tablet” but no degree in math is needed to see that the squiggly blue line alleged shows more queries for “tablets.” The chart tell a search engine optimization maven that buying the word “tablet” will get more traffic than the phrase “notebook computer.” An SEO expert will also figure out that the cost of the word tablet might be higher than buying the phrase “notebook computer.”

Yum. Information pizza. Filling and really good for your brain.

Now back to the write up and the phrase “Says Google.” Google is not saying anything. A person ran queries and received data. One never knows how comprehensive the data set available to Google Trends is. Furthermore, I am not sure I know how the data sets are generated.

The article reports what I already knew. Each time Dell or Hewlett Packard releases its financial reports, I am reminded that certain mainstay computing products are not selling like hot cakes. HP’s printer ink business was down. Dell’s hardware sales were down. Non Apple tablets are non-starters. Fancy Dan consultants generate massive reports about the shift to mobile devices. On a personal front, at meetings I see more iPads than 15 inch notebook computers. The small form factor netbooks have mostly disappeared from the circles in which I travel.

What about the phrase “Fewer People Want to Know about Computers”? I have worked in various technology centric businesses for more than 50 years. Guess what I learned on my first day at Halliburton Nuclear in 1972? I learned that at a subsidiary with more than 600 nuclear engineers, only a tiny fraction of the professionals wanted to learn about computers.

Flash forward 50 years. Most people don’t want to learn about computers. If you happen to work at a company which is steeped in computer hardware and software, the interest in computing technology is quite high. However, when one asks one of these experts to fix a dead laptop, does that person eagerly volunteer to disassemble your machine, replace a dead hard drive, and reinstall and operating system and applications? My experience is that modern assembly methods make today’s gizmos tough to fix.

I may know how to take apart an iMac, and iPhone, or a Toshiba laptop. But I don’t want to do it, never did. Even a trivial fix such as replacing a VGA port with a bent pin can be an exercise in frustration. I don’t want to go through the drill of locating a disassembly guide, finding my sets of electronics screwdrivers, getting my magnifying gizmo set up, and repairing the system. The components are tiny. I have other work to do. Do you really want to reinstall OSX or Windows on your mother’s PC? So consumerization is here.

The larger issue is, “What does this mean about understanding information access?”l

With folks just wanting a tablet or mobile phone to work, I believe that many people will accept what the provider or vendor delivers. With the gap between those who learn zip in high school and college, figuring out that information payloads are shaped will be impossible and possibly irrelevant any way. For those lucky dogs who are in the technology flow, I understand the opportunity to take advantage of those operating at a lower clock speed, with less RAM, and a flawed storage device.

Once I thought that a search should return objective, high value results. I have learned that search systems have to allow system administrators to boost certain content. The app revolution generates money when the app delivers an experience which is similar to a microwaved pizza. Some calories, lots of fat, and quickly and easy to cook.

I don’t need a Google Trend chart to make clear the business opportunities consumerization presents.

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2012

Sponsored by Augmentext

The Game Approach to Breaking News and Intelligence

July 10, 2012

Modern society thrives on knowing what goes on in the world, but often time’s viewer opinions differ from those of a journalist. Both cable and the internet are utilized to watch daily news, and now there is place to get your own point across. According to Nieman Lab’s article “Scoople: Gaming the news to get your data” is a polling company that operates as a game while utilizing actual news. Users receive points as a reward for participating.

Scoople uses a “content engine” to farm sources which produce a single story, and:

“The machine tracks some 200 RSS feeds, but a story is often a partial mash-up of just two articles, which Scoople cites with links to the originals.”

“Scoople publishes content by category in channels like Celebrity, Film, Politics, Tech, World, Gaming, and so on. Part-time editorial staffers come up with questions that go with each story.”

“Scoople created a social experience around media content…They’re not building a fantasy farm. It’s very well-grounded in daily news, daily events that they already think about.”

Involving the public by using a poll process will initiate interest and generate more public responses. The social sharing of opinions to generate results is a unique shift in the way normal news works. Scoople is offering a fresh approach to breaking news and intelligence in a game like atmosphere.

Jennifer Shockley, July 10, 2012

Sponsored by Ikanow

Facebook Adds Customized User Controls. Who Has Time?

June 17, 2012

Facebook has seen quite a bit of limelight this month. Their IPO has garnered much media attention. Perhaps this is why their newest feature had a quiet introduction. “Facebook Tweaks Notifications to Help You Silence Annoying Applications, Updates” describes the new controls users have over the flow of updates into the notification box.

When a user sees a new notification, a small “X” icon also appears in the right hand corner of the notification. After they delete the newest notification from that application they will have the chance to click “Turn Off” to stop all notifications for that particular application, event or comment thread.

According to the article:

“This is especially helpful for gaming applications like Farmville that spam updates into the notification feed or updates from events that you didn’t attend, but neglected to decline the invitation. Users that don’t want to contribute to a long string of comments can avoid getting updates about new additions to the conversation. Users that spam groups with pointless updates can be silenced immediately.”

This addition to Facebook settings embedded into the homepage is sure to gain positive comments. In light of Facebook’s IPO especially, perhaps all the company needs is a little lipstick.

Megan Feil, June 17, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot

Motorola Makes TV More User Friendly. Is Google TV Chopped Liver?

June 8, 2012

How does one make a TV program findable to a couch potato? Motorola has a solution, as Venture Beat informs us in “Motorola’s DreamGallery Aims to Eliminate Crappy TV User Interfaces.” Writer Tom Cheredar observes that unwieldy UI’s are plaguing today’s televisions, and Motorola is doing something about it. The article reports:

“At The Cable Show industry event in Boston today, the company showed off its DreamGallery media concept that’s powered by Motorola’s Medios cloud service. Essentially, it’s a pretty way to navigate and share stuff on your television set in a way that currently isn’t possible — assuming that all future televisions will have internet connectivity.

“DreamGallery focuses on making the television a cross-platform media center that works between computers/web browser, tablets, and smartphones. It will also serve to aggregate all the content from cable TV services, the internet, and Video-on-demand services (like Netflix), into a single location.”

So, Motorola knows how to improve the TV UI. Will Google know better? After all, it just acquired Motorola, but it already has Google TV in place (which, not surprisingly, emphases YouTube). Perhaps the company will combine the best from both concepts. We can hope, can’t we?

To be honest, I can’t tell from the previews which I would like better, DreamGallery (here) or GoogleTV (here). Can you?

Cynthia Murrell, June 8, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot

SLI Systems Introduces a Quick View Function

May 30, 2012

The SLI Systems blog recently reported on a new window function for retail websites in the article, “Quick View Windows Evolve to Satisfy Curious Shoppers.”

According to the article, Quick View window is still a rare feature on many online retail sites, however it is gaining popularity. The way it works is Quick View buttons will appear once a shopper hovers over an item on search or category pages. They hover over product images on search or category pages.  When they click, a pop-up windows appears that displays more details about that product.

The article states:

“The Quick View window is designed to improve the online shopping experience by making it faster for customers to shop.  Anything to reduce the number of clicks to get an item into the cart is generally a good thing.  If a Quick View window can satisfy a curious shopper, it will save them a full page load of the product detail page and the click of a back button and another page load to return to their search results.  This can save a bunch of time and actually foster more curiosity in customers.”

Some shoppers find the process to be quite cumbersome, since they have to hover over a product for the button to appear, but retailers have tried a variety of different solutions to aid these issues. One solution has been to place the Quick View button below the product image so that it is always visible.

Regardless of the different approaches, adding a quick view button to any online retail website is bound to ensure more informed customers and higher sales.

Jasmine Ashton, May 30, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot

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